What a Finish!
By Snyper on 6/14/10
Matt Snyder is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

After finishing up some housework Sunday afternoon, I decided to catch the end of the St. Jude Classic before heading out to the links myself. I tuned in when the last group was on the 16th hole. I saw that Robert Garrigus had the lead with two holes to go. I have to admit that I wouldn't have known him from Adam at the beginning of the week. But, after watching him on Friday and Saturday, I couldn’t help but be a fan and route for the ten year pro to get his first win.

I settled into my recliner in time to see Westwood make a bad bogey on 17 to extend Garrigus' lead to two strokes. When Robert poured in a birdie on 16 and gave himself a three-shot lead, I headed into the kitchen to get my things together. I figured I’d watch Garrigus play another hole and then head off to the course. However, after he pared the 17th, I decided to stick around and watch him finish out his round. I had no doubt that he was going to win, but I wanted to see him celebrate and hear what he had to say after the round. As he walked to the 18th tee, one of the announcers made the comment that he should aim for the hospitality tents on the right side and stay as far away from the water as possible. I kind of chuckled at this suggestion, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I was anxious to see if Garrigus would do exactly that as he teed it up. Well, as we all know, he did not. When he hit it in the water and any thoughts that I had about leaving quickly vanished as I was now glued to the television to see if he could hold it together and still win.

I sat there, absolutely stunned, and half sick in my own stomach. I could not believe what I was seeing.
After hitting his tee ball into the water, Garrigus chose to drop in the rough where the ball had crossed the hazard. This was certainly the correct choice. Unfortunately, it was his last correct choice. For some reason, instead of just punching the ball down the fairway, he chose to hit a full iron out of the thick rough. Well, that resulted in a low hook into the trees and only a fortunate break kept the ball out of the water for the second time. I sat there, absolutely stunned, and half sick in my own stomach. I could not believe what I was seeing. He would go on to make a triple bogey on the hole and force a three-way playoff.

What is the first hole of the sudden death playoff? Number 18, of course. This time, Robert would smash a three-wood right down the middle. However, the fairway is only 315 yards long. He hit his tee shot 325 yards and it stopped right behind a huge oak tree. Talk about adding insult to injury. He would punch out and the lip out his par putt while Westwood and Karlsson both made their pars. Just that quickly, Robert Garrigus saw his three shot lead evaporate and found himself eliminated from the playoff all at the hands of the 18th hole. Westwood and Karlsson would battle on for three more holes before Westwood made a beautiful birdie on 18 to win the tournament.

Well, so much for me getting to the course to play some golf myself. But, you know what, I was ok with it. While it was heartbreaking to see Garrigus blow his lead, I had a great time watching those guys battle it out in sudden death. And, beyond that, it was even more impressive to see him give his interview after the round. First of all, let’s not lose sight of the fact that he was willing to do an interview. I know of at least one guy who would never do an interview if those same circumstances happened to him, and he’s probably not the only one. But Garrigus stepped up to the plate and not only agreed to be interviewed, but he said all the right things. I’m sure he was sick and disgusted, but you would have never known it. He basically said, “I’ll get it next time”. Wow.

Tournament exemptions aside, Garrigus cost himself over $500,000 with his triple bogey. Ouch!

Can you imagine how much a win would have meant to this guy’s career? He’s a ten-year pro who has never won and has only been in the top five a couple times. He would have earned exemptions and invitations to tournaments like the Masters.

Tournament exemptions aside, Garrigus cost himself over $500,000 with his triple bogey. Ouch! I know how upset I am when I lose five dollars on the course, let alone $500,000. But, this guy didn’t throw any clubs. He didn’t scream any profanities. He didn’t blame anyone or anything else. Instead, he stayed calm and grinded out a good enough score to make the playoff. Then, after getting a terrible break, he punched out and gave himself another chance. He never whined about what happened or went off on a rant about how poorly he was playing. He stood tall and stayed classy.

I was pretty excited about getting out and playing golf last night, but I could not walk away from the end of the St. Jude Classic. It went from a semi-Cinderella story to a gut-wrenching melt down. While this may have been one of the biggest chokes of all time, I saw it for all the positives that these players brought to the game. I say congratulations to Westwood for winning, Karlsson for battling, and Garrigus for being an example of how to stay classy in face of adversity. He may not have shown us what to do when we have a lead on the last hole on Sunday, but he did show us all exactly how to behave when things go wrong. What a great finish to a great tournament that also happens to support a great cause. The best season of PGA Tour golf in a long time just keeps getting better. I just hope the guys like Karlsson, Westwood, and Garrigus, who play the game the way it is meant to be played, get some credit for doing what they do and representing the game of golf in a positive light.


* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf.


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[ comments ]
sepfeiff says:
Garrigus is going to be around a lot. He hits it a mile and has a good iron game to back it up. Still a shame to see it go down that way.
6/14/10
 
Kickntrue says:
I missed all of the excitement, thinking it was over. Later I'm surfing the net and hear about the results. I'm not sure I agree that Garrigus will be back- but I don't feel THAT bad for a dude who still made more in a weekend than I do in more than 4 or 5 years.
6/14/10
 
bplewis24 says:
I was enjoying the article until the soapbox morality/judgment rant about the things he didn't know (which he actually did do to some extent). It just goes to show how much bias colors our perception of things.

Anyway, it was a stunning finish. It amazes me how a golf meltdown parallels a car wreck. It seems much more interesting than just a regular finish sometimes. And sometimes while I feel myself outspokenly rooting for the guy to evade the choke-job, subconsciously I can tell I want to see the incredible happen...and the incredible happens to be the triple-bogey on the 72nd hole of a tournament to lose the lead.
6/14/10
 
bplewis24 says:
didn't do* (not "didn't know").
6/14/10
 
ElGalloGigante says:
Well I'm glad I'm not the only one who switched this off yesterday. After hoping and praying for Rose to bumble away his lead or Fowler to sink an amazing shot the weekend before, I didn't have the stomach to watch Westwood miss out on another win this past weekend. After he par'd the 16th, a hole he shot -4 through 3 rounds, I figured he was done for.
6/14/10
 
yostmar says:
Great article, Matt
6/14/10
 
wrhall02 says:
Most touring pros are very classy under distress (or melt downs), this is why golf is such a unique (great) game. Very seldom will you see them yelling f'bombs, trash talking the opponent, throwing temper tantrums etc when things aren't going their way.

I can only imagine the tantrums and words if it would have been Tiger instead of Garrigus...but let's face it...Tiger will never blow a 3 shot lead on the final hole...
6/14/10
 
Banker85 says:
It was hard to watch, but agreed Kickntrue: "but I don't feel THAT bad for a dude who still made more in a weekend than I do in more than 4 or 5 years" i dont feel bad at all!
6/14/10
 
GolfGeek69 says:
Great article Matt. This is exactly what I try to convey on these blogs with regards to the class of golf. Let's be clear, there is a difference between showing disappointment and being beligerant. A class example was when I watched Cory Pavin miss a 3 foot birdie put at Colonial a few weeks ago. He said "I can't believe it" and took off his hat. But, then he gathered himself and walked to the next hole. bplewis24, morality is not a soapbox, it is and always has been a staple of golf. It is why golf is filled with the kinds of traditions that make it a moral game, such as honoring who tees off first, not walking in someone's line and even calling yourself on an infraction, even when nobody is looking. Golf is a moral game. It is the same reason why fans should not separate what atheletes do off the field/course from what they do on the field/course.
6/14/10
 
ElGalloGigante says:
@GolfGeek69 - I could disagree more with your last statement. I'm so tired of people turning entertainment and games into faux battles between the forces of good and evil.
6/14/10
 
jerdman says:
I just happened to turn this on as Garrigus was putting on 17. Then his blow up on 18 and the bad break on the playoff, poor guy couldn't catch a break. His caddy should have just handed him his PW and his putter and made him play the hole with just those clubs.
6/14/10
 
Snyper says:
@ElG...I would consider golf to be a sport, not a game or entertainment. If you're talking about the NBA or WWE, I'd agree with your game/entertainment analysis. Regardless, these guys are role models for kids. Young golfers see the way these guys act and that directly influences how they choose to behave on the course. That's hardly turning games into battles of good and evil. It's more accurately called caring about the tradition and future of the sport.
6/14/10
 
ElGalloGigante says:
@Snyper - I'm going to just skip over your first two sentences because I don't know how you got all that out of my two. On to what I was talking about, the fact that professional athletes are somehow suppose to be role models to our kids. If you're son in is into basketball, then sure, you would mind him modeling his game after Jordan's, but as for how he handles himself as a man, that's on you. Own it.

As for "caring about the tradition and future of the sport," I think most Pros do a decent enough job at that, and the ones who stray have an organization to keep them in line.
6/15/10
 
GolfGeek69 says:
ElGalloGigante, the type of mentality you have towards not holding sports pros to a moral standard is exactly why this type of behavior continues. I respect your opinion because it is usually the other side of this debate. However, it was bad enough to see other pro sports fall off the tracks with drug use, illegal bets, etc.; now we have to endure a sport built on high moral standards being attacked. This is not about good or evil, it is about the continuing decay of our society into one where nobody is held accountable for their behavior. It is the reason why Tiger's behavior was so irreprehensible. If we don’t hold the individuals that have chosen to be in the public eye accountable, we continue to slip ever deeper into the “everything goes” quagmire.
6/15/10
 
ElGalloGigante says:
@GolfGreek69 - I'm sorry, I just don't subscribe to the school of thought that holds everyone accountable to MY standards, and then applies that to a larger scale at MY discretion. The "continuing decay of our society" is such a nonsense statement that it baffles me to know so many intelligent people buy into it.

Really, our society is slipping "deeper" into an "everything goes" quagmire!? Yeah, we were doing so well as a nation when we were killing people over race, partaking in drugs without restraint in the 20's and 60's, indulging ourselves in the "Me First" 80's...

Funny how "now" is always worse off than "then."
6/15/10
 
GolfGeek69 says:
ElGalloGigante I am not talking about MY standards, I am talking about standards that have been supported in this country from its founding that have slowly erroded away. I am not going to debate that our country was not in moral decay, your statements only prove me correct. It is an ever increasing decay that you apparently subscribe to. So if you suscribe to a constant state of morality, then how do you explain the outrage over what Tiger did? There was outrage because he did something that had never been known to happen before. That in itself proves my point. I don't care if it had been a different golfer, the reaction would have been similar. If things have not changed, there would not have been a reaction, because it would have been the norm. Check and Mate!!
6/15/10
 
Swingem says:
@ElGalloGigante-You make a good point that, counter to the perception that society as a whole is currently in a race-to-the-bottom, significant improvements have been realized. That being said, I share GolfGeek69 & Snyper's opinion that our sport has, and should continue, to answer to a higher standard. Character and personal integrity are the very foundation of golf, and should be protected and maintained with a vengence. I respect TW's skill at getting around a golf course, but despise him for disrepecting the game. This includes his on-course behavior as much as his extracaricular activities. Winning does not take care of everything! Media and marketing do not set the standard! It's not a matter of holding others to MY standards, it's a matter of holding them accountable to the traditions of the game of golf.
6/15/10
 
ElGalloGigante says:
@GolfGeel69 - Look at Mr. Sixty-Nine here getting all huffy about my response! Check and Mate!? Ha! Love it! Praise god, my friend, for a righteous person you are! It's a shame we can't judge the game's past greats within the same environment today's pros face. The 24 hour, live coverage microscope sure has a way of finding any and all blemishes in today's sports stars' lives. I'm so sure the yester-year gents were impeccable men, worthy of your love and admiration.

@Swingem - Seriously good reply, and thanks. Look, golf is a game of tradition and has a set of values that unrivaled by most. I love that about the game, and can understand why people want to protect that. Tiger dropping F-bombs on the tee box is a bit much, even for me, but I'm more concerned with that than whatever he does off the course, and can separate the two. Basically, I'm human and I'm pretty certain everyone else is too.
6/15/10
 
GolfGeek69 says:
Nice cover ElGalloGigante, but you didn't address my statements. I agree that today's sports stars are under constant watch, but that does not address the issue that golf is a sport that has always had a greater tradition to uphold. It is good to see your tone has come around to at least some support of the values and tradition of the game of golf. That is a far cry from your earlier comments that sport stars are not role models. By the way I was in no way huffy and I added 69 (my birth year) to my username since it was taken. I wonder if the reason you are so supportive of TW is hidden in your comment about my username. Why would you even comment about that. Perhaps you lack moral fiber yourself and need sports stars to validate through misbehavior that you are justified.
6/16/10
 
GolfGeek69 says:
Human is understandable and I even accepted TW mistakes and apology, but it was empty, which is why I will not support him. It was painful what happened. I admired him and hoped he would break all the records, but his true colors have been shown. You may be willing to root for someone with no morals or values, but I can't. For those that separate the athlete from the person, it shows the reality of thier own morals and values, or should I say lack there of.
6/16/10
 
ElGalloGigante says:
@GolfGeek69 - Wow. How do you follow sports at all? Is there some-sort of Super-Saint League I'm missing out on, where I can get my entertainment and my morals strengthened in one? See, unlike you, I operate in the Real World, where there's a really good chance that the people you put on a pedestal will more than likely fail you. In this world, one also has the ability to make their own decisions and form their own opinions on subjects like, in keeping with your favorite, Tiger Woods. You see, without being a god-less whore mongering heathen, I can still enjoy the thrill of watching Tiger when he's in the hunt and I can still try to adopt his swing without adopting his view on females. I know this too much for you, so I'm sorry for all my transgressions against you and hope you have a blessed and wonderful stay while here in the Real.
6/16/10
 
GolfGeek69 says:
ElGalloGigante, You still have not addressed my questions regarding the topic, why not?
6/17/10
 
ElGalloGigante says:
GolfGeek69 - What's your question again? Seems all you're concerned with is everyone's "moral fiber" and Tiger Woods.
6/17/10
 
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